Global Policy Forum

Britain Will Urge UN to Lift Libya Sanctions


By Kim Sengupta

January 30, 2001

Britain will press for United Nations sanctions against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime to be lifted even if the two Libyans charged over the Lockerbie bombing are found guilty of mass murder.

As long as the Libyan government agrees to a set of six conditions, including renouncing terrorism, Britain will support a new UN resolution to lift the embargo.

Tripoli has indicated it is prepared to accept these stipulations. A British mission has already been established in Tripoli and a Libyan ambassador is due to arrive in London within the next few days.

The British move on sanctions is bound to upset many of the bereaved families of the 270 people killed in the bombing of the Pan Am flight in 1988. Some are already claiming that those who controlled the bombers have been rewarded.

The case, at the Scottish court at Camp Zeist, in the Netherlands, is now at its final stage, with the judges reconvening today to announce when they will formally give their verdict.

British government officials say that they fully understand the emotive nature of the matter but insist there is a clear understanding that the sanctions will be lifted after the trial. Condemning a nation to a permanent pariah status, they feel, would only serve to drive it to behaving like a pariah.

No one connected with the Lockerbie investigation believes that the Libyan defendants, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifah Fhimah, could have acted without authorisation from the very highest level of the Libyan government. However, senior British officials maintained yesterday the matter was not a political one and it was up to the judicial authorities to pursue any other suspects.

The UN imposed mandatory sanctions on Libya after it failed to surrender the two men named by American and British authorities as allegedly committing the Lockerbie bombing. The sanctions were suspended after Col Gaddafi handed over the pair in 1999.

The stipulations the Libyans are expected to adhere to include accepting responsibility for acts of terrorism, giving up terrorism and paying compensation to families of the Lockerbie victims and providing information about the destruction of a French UTA flight in September 1989.

Britain and Libya have already re-established diplomatic relations, which had been broken in response to the murder of Constable Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan People's Bureau in St James Square, London in 1984. Since 1999, diplomats have pursued various avenues to restore relations to normal.

A senior British official said yesterday: "Libya in 2001 is a very different place from Libya in 1988. Libya says it has renounced terrorism and we have seen no sign that this is not the case. The body language is very much that they want to normalise relations and we are reacting to that."

More Information on Sanctions Against Libya
More Information on Sanctions


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